Sunday, December 23, 2007

Let's Talk About What's Really Unhelpful

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon have ganged up on Israel for having the audacity to build housing for its citizens in its capital, with both falsely calling it "unhelpful."

According to a Reuters article Rice chides Israel on new home-building plan:
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned Israel on Friday its plan to build 300 housing units in east Jerusalem threatened US-backed efforts to reach peace with Palestinians.

"We are in a time when the goal is to build maximum confidence with the parties and this doesn't help to build confidence," she said in rare US criticism of Israel.

"There should not be anything which might prejudge final-status negotiations," Rice said after talks with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on the sidelines of a NATO meeting.
In an Agence France-Presse story UN chief: Israel's settlement expansion plan 'not helpful', the UN Secretary General further piled it on the Middle East's only democracy.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Thursday said Israel's decision to expand a Jewish settlement in east Jerusalem was "not helpful" and he would discuss the matter with his partners in the diplomatic Quartet for Middle East peace.

"The UN position on the illegality of settlements is well known," he told reporters.

"This new tender for 300 new homes in east Jerusalem so soon after this Annapolis Middle East peace conference, I think, is not helpful," he added, referring to a recent US-hosted peace summit.

"I will be discussing this matter with my Quartet partners."

But the Palestine Liberation Organization's powerful executive committee issued a statement in which it blasted the expansion project as a "serious violation" and called on the United States and the UN Security Council to put pressure on Israel.
I'd like to mention a few things that really are unhelpful.
  • Pandering to Arab extremism is unhelpful.

    Criticizing Israel for building homes in its capital is pandering to Arab extremism and is most unhelpful.

    There is clearly zero probability that Har Homa and other Jewish neighborhoods would be given to the Palestinian Arabs. Pretending otherwise only feeds absurdly unrealistic hopes to the contrary and lowers the probability of the Arabs accepting the existence of Israel, which is the major requirement needed for peace.
  • The showering of Israeli towns, particularly Sderot, with thousands of Kassam missiles is unhelpful.

    If the interlocutors which to be truly helpful, they might work on civilizing Hamas, although they might have a slightly easier job starting with Fatah.
  • Pressuring one side to freeze construction in the disputed territories while turning a blind eye to the other side carrying on massive construction is unhelpful.

    Connected to this is:
  • Ignoring the seminal United Nations Resolutions and agreements between the parties.

    The Armistice Agreements signed in 1949 specifically stated the Green Line was not to prejudice negotiations over permanent borders. United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 call for negotiations to determine secure borders.

    Acting as if the Green Line should be the basis of any negotiations subverts both the letter and intent of both. If nothing else, it lessens confidence that any future agreements will be honored. (Of course, since the Palestinian Arabs have yet to honor any of their agreements, that confidence can't get much lower anyway.)
  • Pretending Mahmoud Abbas, aka Abu Mazen, is a moderate interested in peace is not helpful.

    He may wear a suit, but the Holocaust denier who serves as leader of the Palestinian Authority has shown no inclination to compromise, a prerequisite for peace. Both the PLO and Fatah, Abu Mazen's PLO faction, continue to call for the destruction of Israel is their charters.
The list could go on and on.

The major point is everyone is pressuring the wrong side.

The Palestinian Arabs don't need their confidence raised; they need it to be lowered. They already know that they'll get their own independent state in most of the disputed territory whenever they choose to join the civilized world; the need is to get them to finally believe continuing their quest to destroy Israel will be counterproductive.

On the other hand, Israel has no basis for confidence in the Palestinian Arabs adhering to any agreement they make. It is also the Palestinian Arabs who continue with unhelpful actions, of which terrorism is just the beginning. The various interlocutors ought to start pressuring the Palestinian Arabs to make some confidence building gestures.

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